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They Came to Toil: U.S. News Coverage of Mexicans on the Eve of the Great Depression
Unformatted Document Text:  They  Came  to  Toil:  U.S.  News  Coverage  of  Mexicans  on  the  Eve  of  the  Great  Depression   Melita  M.  Garza  -­-­  Page  -­3-­       “And without consideration Women, children and old ones They take us to the border They eject us from this country Goodbye dear countrymen They are going to deport us But we are not bandits We came to toil.” 1 --excerpt from El Deportado/The Deported One Mexican folk ballad from the 1930s In December 1929, the Mexican deportee Carlos Espinosa re-crossed the border into Laredo, Texas, and waited on the road for U.S. officials to catch him. He preferred prison in Webb County, U.S.A. for illegally re-entering the country over unemployment, and presumably hunger, in Mexico, he told the border patrolmen who finally showed up. 2 Espinosa was front-page fodder for San Antonio’s Spanish language daily, La Prensa. “The day a civilized government replaces Mexico’s tyrannical one…most Mexicans…will return promptly to their native soil,” La Prensa opined. “With the repatriation of Mexicans ‘living on the outside,’ competition with North American workers that has lowered salaries will cease.” 3 The columnist saw Espinosa as the prototypical Mexican, caught between political chaos in Mexico and the demand for cheap labor in the U.S., law or no law. Espinosa’s “capture” on the verge of the Great Depression poignantly encapsulates the dilemma of the Mexican, as persons of Mexican descent were then called, whatever their nationality. The decade-long economic crisis then unfolding

Authors: Garza, Melita M..
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They  Came  to  Toil:  
U.S.  News  Coverage  of  Mexicans  on  the  Eve  of  the  Great  Depression  
Melita  M.  Garza  -­-­  Page  -­3-­  
 
 
 
 
                         
 
                                                        “And without consideration 
Women, children and old ones 
They take us to the border 
They eject us from this country 
 
Goodbye dear countrymen 
They are going to deport us 
But we are not bandits 
We came to toil.”
1
 
 
--excerpt from El Deportado/The Deported One 
 Mexican folk ballad from the 1930s 
 
 
In December 1929, the Mexican deportee Carlos Espinosa re-crossed the border 
into Laredo, Texas, and waited on the road for U.S. officials to catch him. He preferred 
prison in Webb County, U.S.A. for illegally re-entering the country over unemployment, 
and presumably hunger, in Mexico, he told the border patrolmen who finally showed up.
2
 
Espinosa was front-page fodder for San Antonio’s Spanish language daily, La Prensa
“The day a civilized government replaces Mexico’s tyrannical one…most 
Mexicans…will return promptly to their native soil,” La Prensa opined. “With the 
repatriation of Mexicans ‘living on the outside,’ competition with North American 
workers that has lowered salaries will cease.”
3
 The columnist saw Espinosa as the 
prototypical Mexican, caught between political chaos in Mexico and the demand for 
cheap labor in the U.S., law or no law. 
 Espinosa’s “capture” on the verge of the Great Depression poignantly 
encapsulates the dilemma of the Mexican, as persons of Mexican descent were then 
called, whatever their nationality. The decade-long economic crisis then unfolding 


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